MADISON, Neb. (KCAU) — A Norfolk woman was sentenced to two years in prison Friday for providing an illegal abortion to her daughter.
Jessica Burgess, 42, of Norfolk, appeared in the Madison County Courthouse Friday morning where she was sentenced to one year each on the counts of tampering with human skeletal remains, providing false information and abortion after at least 20 weeks gestation.
Of the three one-year terms, the one-year sentencing on the charge of performing an abortion after 20 weeks will be served concurrently with the charge of tampering with human skeletal remains. Meanwhile, the charges of performing an abortion and false reporting will be served consecutively. This means Burgess will effectively serve two years in prison. She also has to pay court costs.
Burgess had originally been charged with concealing the death of another person and abortion by someone other than a licensed physician, but they were dismissed as part of a plea agreement to her pleading guilty or no contest.
In June 2022, Jessica Burgess was charged with providing an illegal abortion on her daughter, Celeste Burgess, who was 17 years old at the time. She was also charged with performing the abortion without a license to do so. At the time, Nebraska law stated that an abortion is not allowed 20 weeks or more after fertilization unless it meets certain exceptions.
Jessica Burgess, her daughter, and Tanner Barnhill were accused in early May 2022 of concealing the stillborn death of a baby, but an investigation led to the discovery that Jessica Burgess gave her at-the-time 17-year-old daughter Celeste Burgess pills intended to cause a miscarriage. The teen was believed to have then prematurely given birth to the stillborn on April 22. The mother and daughter then took the body to a private property to bury it, where Barnhill helped.
The Norfolk Police Division stated that authorities were led to the location of the buried body north of Norfolk on April 29, 2022.
Celeste Burgess was tried as an adult and pleaded guilty in May 2023 to removing/concealing/abandoning a dead human body as part of a plea agreement. On July 20, 2023, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail, court costs and 24 months of probation, according to court information.
Barnhill was sentenced in August 2022 after pleading no contest to probation as well as community service for his involvement.